Suitably Slow: My Nine-Year Path to Publishing “Slow Media”

“Congrats, I can imagine that getting a book out to the world is quite a process!”

That’s the kind of thing people have been saying a lot since Slow Media: Why Slow is Satisfying, Sustainable & Smart was finally released by Oxford University Press in September.

Folks, you have no idea.

The journey started in 2009, when I started pondering the possibilities of a less mediated life and searching for a Slow Media movement, as recounted in my Slow Media blog and on NPR’s Marketplace. Soon I was in the midst of the six-month Slow Media experiment, where I pretended it was 1989. (You can hear about my life without digital media in this audio story at Medium.com.)

Fast forward a couple of years, and I had an offer from an independent “print-on-demand” publisher to release an earlier version of this book. I declined because I didn’t feel confident signing a contract without representation. So I got an agent and spent a year working with her to develop a proposal. Yikes! She couldn’t sell it.

By 2013, I’m doubting the whole project and persuading myself that the world doesn’t need another book. It’s not like you get rich or famous in academic publishing, right? Not to mention the irony of having spent years of my life typing at a computer to spread the message that we should all spend less time staring at screens. On the backburner it goes.

Meanwhile, I write a couple of things about Slow Media for scholarly audiences: tracing the origins of the idea for an article in the journal Transformations and analyzing why slowness is a form of cultural resistance for a chapter in The Routledge Companion Alternative and Community Media.

The fact that people from all over the world keep reaching out to discuss Slow Media convinces me it’s worth another shot. To wit, I did some interviews with Radio National in Australia, La Presse of Montreal, Les Clés de la Presse in France, and Daily Beast in the U.S., among others. I’m ultimately glad to have let the project steep for a few years; my ideas evolved and the book is deeper and richer for having waited.

I’ve shared this timeline to demystify the process, especially for those of you who happen to be nurturing an unpublished book. I sent the proposal for Slow Media to a few academic publishers on my own in 2016 and had some offers, including from Oxford. Working with them was an amazing experience, although not without delays. It took around 32 months from contract to release.

Moral of the story: Slow and steady wins the race.